Last week, in my post ‘Anxiety Can’t Be The Answer’ I was saying how I woke up one morning and persuaded myself that I was a schizophrenic.
Now, I sort of explained myself but not as well as I could have, so I thought I would take the time this week to explain ‘thinking errors’ and how they personally affect me.
Thinking errors are negative automatic thoughts that manipulate and bend the truth.
I was made aware of them within the first session of cognitive behavioural therapy.
I had never even heard of the term ‘thinking errors’ but after learning about them, I soon came to realise that they have affected me since I was an early teen.
They are a product of depression and if they are never recognised or treated they can form a never ending vicious cycle.
Twelve of the most common thinking error categories are;
To help explain a little further I have listed six of these categories and written a little bit about how they effect me personally.
When I first started to experience panic disorder I blamed myself for it, it was all my fault and I was stupid for not knowing how to fix it. I have blamed myself since and felt guilty for the added responsibilities my family had to deal with. I have many labels that I give myself.
I’m trying to learn not to label myself or be self critical anymore but it is like a bad habit. I have been doing it for so many years that it is just a part of my life, a routine that I can not shake. I go to sleep with these labels in my head and wake with them too.
When I meet people, old or new, I always feel awkward, not just a simple awkward but an over reading every sign awkward. I calculate their body language and I dissect their speech. I mind read and come to the conclusion that just because they looked at me a little funny, they think I’m mad.
I try to imagine what is going on in their head and all I can see is them laughing at me. I use to have lots of friends, I was always apart of a group and I was always the one in the middle making the conversation. When I became ill though, I started thinking people didn’t like me anymore and because I can now count all my friends on one hand now.
By now you should know I have a very vivid imagination, and it never seems to help me in a good way. Catastrophising and my imagination go hand in hand. They taunt and tease me until I want to rip out my hair.
I could be sitting at home waiting for Glen to get back from work, when I realise he is a bit late. Only half an hour late, but nonetheless late. I will sit and worry. I will bite my nails debating about whether to call him. I will try and distract myself by doing meaningless tasks. I will hear a siren going past outside. I will imagine the worst. I will come to the conclusion it’s an ambulance on it’s way to Glen. I catastrophise something out of nothing.
I’m always getting reminded in CBT that I need to stop being so self critical and demanding of myself. Everyone has a certain level of what they expect from them selves and in most cases this can be a positive thing as it is what drives you to achieve your goals. However when Depression is added to the equation it can turn that sum into a negative.
What you expect of yourself turns into a demand, you no longer see it as optional but instead something that must and has to be done. With myself I am always demanding too much too soon. Wanting and willing myself to magical become better, to only be annoyed and frustrated with myself when I push myself to far and suffer a panic attack.
Someone with anxiety and depression may suddenly feel they have gained some super powers when they become ill. Fortune telling! I am one of those. A super natural phenomenon that can predict and foresee things that have not happened. You can’t ask me the football results though, all you could ask me is what my future holds for me… Of course though, this isn’t true.
I don’t know my future, let alone what I’m having for dinner later. But the mind is a complex thing, and this common thinking error can fool the most smartest of people. For example when I have a panic attack, one of my triggers is the thought that I am going to have a panic attack. So now tell me, if I didn’t have that triggering fortune telling thought that I was going to have a panic attack, would I have had that panic attack? No.
When someone is mental filtering it means they are not taking on board anything positive but instead only the negative. Say you have created a leaflet for a company and have to hand in a draft before it gets printed so that the company can check it over and do any needed editing. You pick your nails for two days waiting until you are finally handed back the draft leaflet.
There is red pen scribbled all over it.
Font needs resizing here. Picture to be taken out there. Borders to be replaced round text. Information miss spelt needs editing.
When the company hands the leaflet back to you, you miss their comments. All you can see is the red pen scribbled all over your beautiful work. You leave without giving a friendly smile.
You go home and start to re-work the leaflet but your irritated and annoyed. How could they be so negative towards your work? You worked so hard! You think it looks wonderful, how could they have not thought the same? … But they did.
You missed their comments remember. They said that it was a great leaflet, that the design really worked well. And that it was bright, bold and daring, just what they where after. They were so pleased with what you had done but because your mental filter only focuses on the negatives you missed all the positive things that where said.
I do this all the time. I take things personally and to my heart. It doesn’t matter if someone said my work was good, all I would see is that red pen.
So they are my personal examples.
I hope they help to explain my last post a bit better.
Did you recognise any of the thinking errors and think to yourself that is me?
Lots of people have them, they just haven’t noticed them, they become habit and automatic.
It all depends whether they have take control of your life.
Mine have, but now I am facing them. Challenging them and correcting them.